Monday, June 20, 2016

YA Series and Chill: Inspiration for the series

As part of the Entangled TEEN YA Series and Chill promotion, I'm writing a series of five blog posts about my experiences writing a series. LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES (LAOUV) and LIFE AFTER JULIET (LAJ) are each stand-alone novels, but they are companions in that they are set in the same fictional world and the stories revolve around a characters that show up in both of the novels.

I am an accidental serial novelist. I never meant to write anything else in the LAOUV universe, but
life has a way of providing new paths for us.

Writing LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES became a labor of love, a small way of honoring the memory of my Em who had passed from ovarian cancer. It was a way for me to work through all the immediate emotions of death and loss.

I met Em in the summer of 1985 when my family first moved to a tight-knit southern town in Eastern North Carolina. We became fast friends, sharing a love of 60s music and bad television—oh, and Grease. We knew ALL the words and choreography to Grease and would take turns being Pink Ladies or T-birds as we reenacted our favorite parts.

Like me Em had a younger sister, and like all good big sisters, we spent lots of time figuring out ways to properly torture them. One Easter we volunteered to fill the plastic eggs with jellybeans (because we were always being “helpful” like that). We sorted out all the black jellybeans and put them in all the pink eggs. Pink was our sisters’ favorite color, so we knew they’d dive for those eggs first (we also knew our parents were tired of hiding Easter Eggs, and when are you girls ever going to grow out of this, and really kids we’re just here for the food and drinks, so…eggs were never hidden so much as just laying around the yard).

It was worth losing our dessert that night to watch our sisters whine over their payload of disgusting black jellybeans!

The thing is I have hundreds of silly stories about Em like that. And when she passed away, we all spent a lot of time together sharing all those stories. But as time went on, and we all were forced back into our real lives, it became more difficult to find that connection, to revel in the delight and comfort of our old stories. My new friends were sympathetic, and always willing to listen, but they never had any Em stories to reciprocate, and after a while, I just stopped telling them, tucking them away like the program from her funeral.

When I finished writing LAOUV I felt good about the story I had told. I felt like Em would like it. I felt like I was done.

But when my editor, Heather Howland, asked, “What happens to Becca?” I started to wonder the same. What would happen to a girl like Becca Hanson? A girl who, until meeting Charlotte, never felt like she was missing out on anything in the real world while she lived in the pages of her books. And what would happen to a girl like Becca once her older brother and his friends left for college? Who would she share stories and memories with?

LIFE AFTER JULIET became a labor of love for myself. It was my way of understanding what it
means to live day to day, month to month, and year to year with grief. It has been eight years since Em passed—I have to count the years every time because it still feels like it was just last week that I gave her a hug and said I’d stop back by in two days to see her again. It feels like just yesterday that the early morning call came to tell me that two days was one day too late for a final goodbye. And while I don’t cry every day anymore, and I’m not walking with shoes full of leaden regret anymore, I still miss my Em every single day.

Writing Becca's story in LAJ helped me accept that grief is a part of who I am now. And that’s okay because I can be strong, just like my Em. I can carry that grief and still be happy, loved, and content with the life I’m left here to live. And my life is better for having “met” my Charlie, my Charlotte, and my Becca through writing not one but two stories that honor both Em and all those who grieve.

Don't forget to check out the other amazing blogs and fun stuff going on during the Entangled TEEN YA Series and Chill promotion. And here's another chance to enter the giveaway for the Entangled TEEN Series Starter Kit!

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YA Series and Chill

Anyone feeling that summer slide, yet?

I know what we're going to do today!
I'm pretty sure my son's brain is getting a little moldy from all the Phineas and Ferb binge watching he's doing this summer. Now, I love Phineas and Ferb and the whole darn gang, but holy Doofenshmirtz, there has to be something else he can do!

Entangled TEEN has a plan to help us all get our brains back in shape for summer. They are running a fun promotion called YA Series and Chill starting today and ending July 3. During the promo period there will be sales, fun blog posts, a Twitter chat (6/23/16 at 9PM EDT), Entangled Teen Fans Facebook page takeovers, and giveaways. You can find the whole schedule here on the Entangled TEEN blog.

Get your calendars out and check out the fun schedule. I'll be at the Twitter chat. We'll be using the hashtags #BingeReads and #YALit. Follow along and join the conversation!

I'm taking over the Entangled Teen Fans Facebook page on Thursday, June 28. Check in throughout the day to say hi!

As part of the YA Series and Chill promotion, I'm writing a series of five posts here on the blog about my experiences writing both LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES and LIFE AFTER JULIET.

Stay tuned for the first post later this afternoon! It's all about my inspiration for writing these companion novels.

Here's your first chance to enter the fabulous giveaway for an Entangled TEEN Series Starter Kit, complete with ten amazing YA titles to binge on all summer long (including LIFE AFTER JULIET)!

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Who's Who in the Life after Juliet Backstage Crew

I am so excited to welcome the following bookish folks to the Life after Juliet backstage crew! There are a few more who's information I'll be updating shortly, but in the the crew! Be sure to stop by their blogs and follow them on social media. 

And if you're still interested in joining us, we can always use a few good crew members! Just use the sign up form here on the blog, and I'll get in touch with you soon!

On with the show!


Jilianne Marie Adoremos I'm Jilianne. I absolutely love reading but remember loathing it so much when I was younger. I'm more of a reader than a writer and surprisingly, I prefer writing essays to short stories. I have a never-ending tbr shelf on Goodreads and a huge pile of books at home that I haven't read. When I'm not reading or talking about books, I'm usually either staring at my books, reorganizing my bookshelves, or watching rom-coms. Find Jilliane on Instagram at @jiliannesbooks.

Courtney I'm a mathematics instructor at a community college. When I'm not teaching people how to plot x and y intercepts or integrate a sin function, you will find me either writing, reading, or riding my horses. Travel is also something I love--particularly if that travel involves touring old naval ships or visiting cemeteries. You can find me on my blog Courtney's Reads and Instagram and Twitter at @courtneyreads.

Lynda Dickson Lynda Dickson is an Australian blogger, reviewer, and promoter at Books Direct. Follow Lynda here:

Maggie Rider Hi! My name is Maggie Rider. I'm a new book-blogger. My blog's name is A Booknerd's Guide to the Galaxy. I've been blogging since February of this year. In my time outside of school, I read lots of boos and fangirl over TV shows. I'm currently obsessed with the Broadway musical, Finding Neverland, and it's female lead Laura Michelle Kelly. I'm a harpist with the New World Youth Orchestra. I've been playing harp for two years. Another important part of my life is American Sign Language or ASL. I've been taking ASL for 3 years. Also, I'm a frequent comic con goer. Over the few short years I've been attending cons, I have acquired a good lot of autographs, which I am rather proud of. I absolutely love writing, though I don't know if I'm very good at it. My hope is to one day be a screen writer, whether it be for TV or movies. Honestly, I don't really care as long as I get to do what I love.

Karen Steinberger Karen Steinberger, MLS is a young adult services librarian at the Carmel Clay Public Library who likes to make stuff, talk to people of all ages, and escape into good books. Find her on Instagram at @ireadrosies - or - wherever the wild things are... 

Leandra Wallace Leandra Wallace lives in IN with her husband, one kidlet, a small black dog, and three fish. She enjoys all things literary, diy, and party planning. Her dream is to one day be a stay-at-home mom/author. Also, desserts are not safe with her. Connect with her on her blog at Le&ndra Wallace.  Follow her on Twitter at @leandrajwallace.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Funny faces and PRIZES!

Last week, I spent two days at Carmel High School at their annual WriterCon, met lots of amazing readers and writers at the Carmel Barnes and Noble AuthorPalooza, and then attended the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana's 7th Annual Author Breakfast. It was a crazy awesome three days, and during my time spent exploring writing and literature and personal connections, I made a discovery about myself.

I make seriously stupid faces when I talk.
This face says I'm dead serious about whatever
words are about to come out of my mouth.
Or that I've sucked on a lemon.

How do y'all keep from laughing at me when I'm talking to you? Because I have photographic evidence that suggests you have every right to snicker right in my stupid looking face. How is Eric Halvorson keeping a straight face? Probably from years and years of news broadcasting, right?

"I choo-choo-choose you..."

Okay, enough laughing. Let's all move on.

He has pretty skin. Wonder what kind of soap he uses. 
I want a cupcake. 
Puppy-puppy-puppy-puppy. That's a fun word.
(My brain is always going every direction except the one I want!!)
Recently, I had the pleasure of working with the most lovely designer I know, my amazing little sister. She designed these beautiful bookmarks for me for Life after Juliet. And the bookmarks inspired me to make these adorable Romeo and Juliet inspired poison and dagger necklaces.

And then I had these cute necklaces and beautiful bookmarks and I just wanted to share with everyone, so at the AuthorPalooza and DII Author Breakfast I held a giveaway drawing to share some of the awesomeness (because awesomeness should always be shared).

I'm happy to announce the winner of the necklace is Shae, a wonderful young woman (and graphic designer herself)!

The two pairs of dagger earrings were won by Milan and Mackenzie!

Congrats winners!

If you love the necklace and earrings, stay tuned, because I'll have more opportunities to win in the next two months. (CAN YOU BELIEVE WE'RE SO CLOSE TO LIFE AFTER JULIET RELEASE? I CAN'T!!)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Join the Life after Juliet Backstage Crew

I'm looking for bookish folk who'd like to help spread the word about Life after Juliet, my companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables.

Life After Juliet releases on July 5, 2016

Becca Hanson is a reader-a voracious reader. And with all those fictional friends, she never had time for real ones. Plus real ones come with uncontrollable quirks, like constantly filling a room with song, drawing on any available surface, and worst of all, dying. Real friends are more trouble than they’re worth. Since her best-and only-real friend Charlotte’s death six months before, Becca has returned to a life of books in order to distance herself from heartache and constant loneliness as her junior year at Sandstone High begins.
When a class project forces her into the Drama Club, she attracts the attention of not one, but TWO guys involved in the production, onstage and off. Meanwhile, she’s still dealing with the grief of Charlotte’s death–the fact that Charlie is away at MIT–and that she finally has to build a life for herself on her own terms. Ultimately she learns more about who she is, what she wants, how she feels–and how to find what she’s looking for.

If you are interested in signing up for the Life after Juliet backstage crew, be sure to click the Join the Life after Juliet Backstage Crew! tab in the blog header and fill out the form (or click here). I'll contact the crew in May to help me set the stage for Becca Hanson's big debut!

As a backstage crew member, you'll get a swag pack, first look at exclusive content, and an invitation to the cast party! Some members will also receive ARCs of Life after Juliet.

I'm looking for some dedicated readers who will help share Life after Juliet through blog posts, interviews, reviews, pictures, contests, and recommendations. Becca's story is near and dear to my heart, and I want to see her have her chance to shine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Donate MG and YA books here!

A few months ago, I stumbled across this post* that the amazing Liza Nahaus from the Carmel Barnes and Noble had shared.
...Back in June I was down at Circle City Relief.... CCR is a really cool ministry that meets every Sunday in the parking lot of IPS #62 (near 33rd St. and Pennsylvania) and provides a hot meal to anyone in the community who wants it. They also do a really good job of just loving well on people there in the community. At one point a man and his nephew, who was probably 8 or 9, came up to me, and the uncle asked me if we were giving away any kids books that day. He said his nephew had really been wanting a new book of his very own that he could take home and read.
Since it was my first time at CCR, I asked another volunteer to come over to answer the man's question. She told him that unfortunately we didn't have any books to give away that day. She said that every once in awhile, maybe once or twice a year, CCR gets some books donated to them that they give out to the kids. The volunteer went on to suggest to the boy that he could check out a book from his school library to bring home if he wanted to. The boy shook his head though, and said that they are not allowed to bring books home from his school library. They have to stay at school. So then the volunteer suggested that he could go to the public library to check out some books. Again, the boy shook his head and said that his mom works every day and is unable to take him to the library.
Unfortunately, the boy went away empty handed and was obviously sad. As he left I told him that I really hoped he found a book soon that he could have. I was sad as he and his uncle walked away, and my mind immediately turned to my own kids. I especially thought of my first grader, who has the privilege of going to his school library every Wednesday and checking out 3 new books to bring HOME to read. And I take the kids to our public library all of the time to check out books and movies. Not to mention the 100's of books we have at our house that the kids can read anytime they want. But this young boy had opened my eyes to the fact that I had unknowingly been taking for granted something as simple as easy access to books.
Well, about 15 minutes later the uncle comes running back up to my table and says, "You'll never believe this! My nephew and I were heading out of the parking lot and this volunteer lady was just bringing out a box of books from the trunk of her car to pass out to the kids! So my nephew just got a new book!" And I looked down the parking lot, and sure enough there was a lady with a small box of books and a big group of kids had just swarmed her wanting a book. And the uncle had this huge smile on his face and he said, "You know God answers prayers! God is good, all the time!" Of course, I replied, "Yes, He is!" It was so cool to see such an immediate answer to prayer!
Over the next few days, the boy's story just stuck with me. Something about it touched my heart. And that's when the wheels started turning, so to speak! I thought, how cool would it be if we could start some sort of book resource, or book mobile, that we could bring to CCR once a month….
* I condensed this post for the purpose of the blog. You can find the entire post here.

I was crying by the time I finished reading this woman's story. I can't imagine a life without books.

I reached out to friends and neighbors and they all ran to their bookshelves, donating boxes and boxes of books their children weren't reading anymore. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm so blessed to live in such a wonderful community.

This past weekend, I was honored to meet Emily Jackson, founder of Love without Borders at the Carmel Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Fair.  She said the Circle City Relief Bookmobile has been a huge hit. In their first month they gave away around 100 books. The second month they gave away 300 books!

Kids were lined up, waiting patiently for their turn to sift through the books and choose one that was just right for them. For a lot of these kids, this is the first and only book that they own.

Most of the books being donated are for young children and early readers. Emily told me that there is a need for great, fresh, and compelling middle grade and young adult books. And that's why I'm writing today.

I'm hoping my MG and YA reader and writer friends would consider donating some new or gently used books to this great cause.

If you've got new or gently used MG/YA books on your shelves that you know you'll never read again, consider sending them my way. I'll deliver them to the bookmobile (and hopefully get the chance to volunteer a few times, too).

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of books being donated and other fun stuff on the journey. They'll be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the #DonateBooks and #GotBooks hashtags.

Thank you! Thank you for sharing the gift of books!

If you can help, please send the books to

Shannon Lee Alexander
PO Box 485
Fishers, IN 46038

*Please send via USPS since this is a PO box and UPS and FedEx won't deliver.
**And don't forget to ask about using the USPS Media Mail service. It'll reduce the cost of shipping books!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

6 Books to buy on October 6

Image found on Books and Quills

It's a good day to be a book geek! 

Also to be an exclamation point because I'm probably going to use plenty of those in this post!

Here's a peek at 6 books to buy this October 6.

It's a Wonderful Death

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

What's so exciting? 

I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah J. Schmitt at an Indiana SCBWI event last spring, and I've been waiting to read it since. Sarah is smart, witty, and personable, and I'm betting her book will be too!

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

What's so exciting?

Rick Riordan is like a god in my house. Both my kids loooovvvee his books. They're planning on dressing as characters from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for Halloween. And so, providing them with this book will make me numero uno coolest Mommo on the block!

The Odds of Getting Even

Humor and action abound in this second follow-up to the Newbery honor winner and New York Times bestseller, Three Times Lucky

The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, NC. Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale's daddy--confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale's nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn't mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction--if everything goes as expected.
Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon's on the run, Tupelo Landing's in lockdown, and Dale's brother's life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client--one they'd never want in a million years.

For everyone who's already fallen for Mo and Dale, and for anyone who's new to Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even is a heartwarming story that perfectly blends mystery and action with more serious themes about family and fathers, all without ever losing its sense of humor.

What's so exciting?

Mo and Dale! That's what! The kids and I love Mo and Dale. They make us laugh and cry. And Tupelo Landing feels like the sleepy southern town I grew up knowing. Sheila Turnage is a master with plot, character, and prose.

Daughter and I review The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing here.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

What's so exciting?

This is the story that those of us who feel ordinary and left out have been waiting for our whole lives. I'm a huge fan of Patrick Ness. I loved the Chaos Walking trilogy. I demanded that anyone who loves me read A MONSTER CALLS after finishing it (well, after I finished sobbing uncontrollably and could speak again). 

And let's just chat for a moment about how much my already immense respect for this amazing man grew when he decided to put his words and worries into action and raised over one million dollars in a week with his Save the Children fundraiser

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated Edition

For the first time, J. K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Kate Greenaway-award winning artist Jim Kay has created over 100 stunning illustrations, making this deluxe format a perfect gift as much for a child being introduced to the series, as for the dedicated fan. Book one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is publishing on October 6, 2015.
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.
All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley -- a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry -- and anyone who reads about him -- will find unforgettable.

What's so exciting?

If you don't know, then you obviously don't know me. 

Carry On

#1 New York Times bestselling author!
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.
That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.
Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here--it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.
Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

What's so exciting?

We get to spend more time with Simon and Baz! We get to revel in the humor, heart, and insight that is a Rainbow Rowell book! We get to laugh! I'm pretty sure I will do some crying (probably when the package with my pre-ordered book arrives from Barnes & Noble--unless I cave and go to the store today and just buy a copy to have in my greedy hands--which is very, very, very possible) when I read this story.

I admit to being a tiny bit frightened though. I know this isn't Gemma's Simon and Baz or Cath's. I get that. But what if Simon and Baz aren't together in this version? Will I still love it? Can I love a Simon and Baz story without the Snowbaz? 

Book nerd problems, indeed!

What about y'all? Any books you can't wait to get your greedy hands on?